A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Among the Great States

TOF has begun on a whim a story entitled "The Journeyman: Among the Great States." Its opening scene runs as follows.

“Done hung around and sung around
This old town too long.”
– ancient proverb

A bird in the hand
Teodorq sunna Nagarajan the Ironhand always woke quickly. It was what the men of the Great Grass called a “survival skill,” since those who did not often did not. In this case he awoke on satin pillows (which was unusual) even before the woman began to shake him (which was not).

“My husband!” she whispered. “He is home!”

“Will you introduce us?” Teodorq asked, for he had not yet mastered the differences in etiquette between the Great States and the lands in which he had hitherto journeyed.

“You fool!” she scolded him. “He is a master duelist! He has slain seven lovers of mine!”

Teo was a quick study and from this he gathered that a dalliance with the Lay Lisspeh dee Oundahfarm was not one with long-term prospects.

“I have some skills at dueling, too,” he promised, and showed her his rapier. She swatted his arm and said she was serious.

Lay Lisspeh, like all the folk of the Great States was green-skinned and smelled faintly of grass. This pleased Teo, who had grown up on the rolling prairies of the western continent and the scent of grass was perfume to his nostrils. She also possessed a frill or ruff around her neck which when aroused rose out like an parasol. He understood from the Wisdoms of this land that their ancient ancestors had in some unknown way “spliced” the power of plants into their bloodlines so they could supplement their diets by “drinking” sunlight.

Teodorq himself was a noble bronze and supplemented his diet by eating cows and drinking beer.

It was the work of a moment to don his kilts and boots and throw his cloak across his shoulders. It was not as though he had had no practice at swift departures.

But when he reached the doorway of the bedroom, a broad shouldered, elegantly-dressed man with a pointed beard stood there with an equally pointed rapier held at ground guard. Teo supposed this to be Lar Oundafarm. He smiled and raised his hand, palm out.

“Hi,” he said in the Plains style.

The man flourished his sword to sky guard. “You have to go through me to get out.”

“Sure,” said Teo, and decked him.

Perhaps the Lar had been expecting a more protracted conversation over the matter, but Teo saw no reason to stretch things out. He hated long good-byes.


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